2017 - 2018 LEGISLATURE
January 12, 2018 - Introduced by Representatives Tusler, Kitchens and Mursau,
cosponsored by Senators Cowles, Marklein and Petrowski. Referred to
Committee on Environment and Forestry.
1An Act to amend
20.370 (9) (bm), 23.0917 (4) (c) 3. and 281.36 (13m); and to
20.370 (9) (bn), 23.099 and 281.37 of the statutes; relating to: grant
3programs for wetland mitigation and property development projects on
4Department of Natural Resources lands and making an appropriation.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill creates a wetland mitigation grant program under which the
Department of Natural Resources awards grants to nonprofit organizations to
conduct wetland creation, restoration, or enhancement projects on certain DNR
lands. The bill also creates a related grant program under which DNR may award
grants to nonprofit organizations that receive wetland mitigation grants in order to
increase public access to the affected wetland or to improve habitat in, on, or near,
Wetland mitigation grant program. Under current law, DNR must issue
wetland general permits for discharges of dredged or fill material into certain
wetlands and may require a person to apply for and obtain a wetland individual
permit if DNR determines that conditions specific to the site require additional
restrictions on the discharge in order to provide reasonable assurance that no
significant adverse impacts to wetland functional values will occur. Under current
law, before DNR may issue a wetland individual permit, it must require the
restoration, enhancement, creation, or preservation of other wetlands to compensate
for adverse impacts to a wetland resulting from the discharge, also known as
Under the authority of current law, and in consultation with the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers (ACE), DNR has created the in lieu fee subprogram as one
method by which wetland mitigation may be accomplished. Under this subprogram,
payments are made to DNR or another entity for the purposes of improving or
preserving wetlands or other water resource features.
This bill requires DNR to establish a wetland mitigation grant program
(“mitigation program”) using up to $2,500,000 each fiscal year from moneys received
under the in lieu fee program and from surcharge fees charged for each application
to proceed under a wetland general permit. Under the mitigation program, nonprofit
organizations may apply to DNR on a rolling basis for grants to conduct projects to
create, restore, or enhance wetlands on certain DNR lands.
The bill requires DNR to identify land under its jurisdiction that is appropriate
to include in the mitigation program, but limits eligible land to that acquired by the
state in whole or in part with funding from the Warren Knowles-Gaylord Nelson
stewardship program or the Warren Knowles-Gaylord Nelson stewardship 2000
program (DNR stewardship land). The bill requires DNR to include in the mitigation
program no less than 25 percent of all DNR stewardship land and, with some
exceptions, to include land in every watershed located on DNR stewardship land.
The bill requires DNR to issue a request for proposals within three months after
identifying appropriate lands or at the beginning of the next fiscal year, whichever
is earlier, and no later than July 1 of each subsequent year. Under the bill, DNR must
select and announce grant recipients at the end of each quarter, as funds are
The bill imposes requirements for what a wetland mitigation grant application
must include, such as specifications of the wetland functional values that the project
area does not provide or only sparsely provides and those that the proposed project
would restore, enhance, or create. If an application is approved, the bill requires
DNR and the grantee to identify all DNR permits that are required in order for the
grantee to conduct the project, requires DNR to waive all permit fees for those
permits, and limits the timelines for approval of those permits.
Generally, under current law, when a person notifies DNR of an intent to
conduct an activity under a general permit, if DNR does not request any additional
information about the activity that is subject to the notification and does not inform
the applicant that an individual permit will be required by a certain deadline, the
activity is considered to be authorized by the general permit. With respect to a
general permit required to conduct a project under the mitigation program, this bill
requires DNR to inform an applicant that the activity is authorized by the general
permit, instead of relying on passive review.
The bill also authorizes DNR to submit a request to ACE that ACE move up all
deadlines relating to its review and approval of wetland mitigation project proposals
under the in lieu fee subprogram.
The bill requires DNR to pay out a wetland mitigation grant in three phases,
withholding the final payment until the grantee certifies that the project is complete.
If the grantee fails to certify that the project is complete by the date indicated for
completion in its application, the bill requires DNR to use the remaining unpaid
grant amount to either complete the project or contract with or issue a grant to
another nonprofit organization to complete the project, unless DNR agrees to modify
the deadline because of unusual or unforeseen circumstances. Under the bill, an
organization that fails to certify completion of a project by the date indicated in its
application for completion, or another date agreed to by DNR, is not eligible for a new
grant for two grant cycles.
The bill requires DNR to report to the legislature on the effectiveness of the
mitigation program's first five years and any recommended changes.
Property development grants. The bill also requires DNR to establish a
separate grant program under which it makes grants to nonprofit organizations for
certain property development activities relating to wetlands affected by a project
under a wetland mitigation grant. Property development activities that may be
funded under this grant program include those that increase public access to,
awareness about, or recreational use of the affected wetland, or that improve habitat
in, on, or near, the affected wetland. Under the bill, the property development grant
program is funded from the property development and local assistance subprogram
of the Warren Knowles-Gaylord Nelson stewardship 2000 program.
Though it is separate from the wetland mitigation grant program, the bill
requires an application for a property development grant to be submitted at the same
time as an application for a wetland mitigation grant, requires DNR to make a
determination on both grants at the same time, and prohibits DNR from awarding
a property development grant unless it also awards a wetland mitigation grant. The
bill also restricts a property development grant to no more than 10 percent of the
amount of the wetland mitigation grant and provides that a property development
grant may not be paid until the grantee certifies that the project funded by the
wetland mitigation grant is complete.
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
(bm) Wetland restoration — fees; payments.
From the general fund, 4
all moneys received as surcharge fees under s. 281.36 (11), all moneys received as 5
transfers to the in lieu fee subprogram as provided in s. 281.36 (3s) (h), and all 6
moneys received under the in lieu fee subprogram under s. 281.36 (3r) (e) for the
restoration or creation of wetlands, to transfer $2,500,000 each fiscal year to the
2appropriation account under par. (bn),
and for any other activities authorized under 3
the in lieu fee subprogram. If the transfer of money under this paragraph to the
4appropriation account under par. (bn) would cause the unencumbered balance in
5that appropriation account to exceed $5,000,000 the transfer shall be limited to an
6amount that causes the unencumbered balance in the appropriation account under
7par. (bn) to be equal to $5,000,000.
20.370 (9) (bn) of the statutes is created to read:
(bn) Wetland mitigation grants.
All moneys transferred from the 10
appropriation account under par. (bm) for the wetland mitigation grant program 11
under s. 281.37.
23.0917 (4) (c) 3. of the statutes is amended to read:
(c) 3. Grants under s. ss.
23.098 and 23.099
23.099 of the statutes is created to read:
1523.099 Grants for property development relating to wetland
In this section:
“Department stewardship land” has the meaning given under s. 281.37 (1) 18
(b) “Nonprofit organization" means an organization that is described in section 20501
(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code and that is exempt from federal income tax 21
under section 501
(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The department shall establish a program to make grants from the 23
appropriation under s. 20.866 (2) (ta) to nonprofit organizations for property 24
development activities relating to wetlands created, restored, or enhanced under a 25
wetland mitigation grant under s. 281.37 on department stewardship land. Property
development activities for which a grant under this section may be awarded include 2
those that increase public access to, awareness about, or recreational use of the new, 3
restored, or enhanced wetland, or that improve habitat in, on, or near, the new, 4
restored, or enhanced wetland.
A nonprofit organization that applies for a grant under this section shall 6
submit the application at the same time that it submits an application for a grant 7
under s. 281.37. The department shall make its determination with respect to both 8
grants at the same time, and may only award a grant under this section if it also 9
awards a grant under s. 281.37.
A grant awarded under this section may not exceed 10 percent of the 11
amount of the related grant awarded under s. 281.37. The department may not issue 12
the grant funding under this section to the grantee until the grantee has certified 13
that the project funded by the grant under s. 281.37 is complete.
281.36 (13m) of the statutes is amended to read:
281.36 (13m) Report to legislature.
No later than January 31, 2003, and no 16
later than January 31 of each subsequent odd-numbered year, the department shall 17
submit to the legislature under s. 13.172 (2) a report that provides an analysis of the 18
impact of the implementation of mitigation on wetland resources and on the issuance 19
of permits or other approvals under ss. 59.692, 61.351, 61.353, 62.231, 62.233, 87.30, 20
281.11 to 281.47 or 281.49 to 281.85 or ch. 30, 31, 283, 289, 291, 292, 293, 295, or 299. 21The department shall include in its report a discussion of proposals and projects
22under the wetland mitigation grant program under s. 281.37 and the property
23development grant program under s. 23.099.
281.37 of the statutes is created to read:
25281.37 Wetland mitigation grant program. (1)
In this subsection:
(a) “Department stewardship land” means an area of land that is acquired by 2
the state in whole or in part with funding from the stewardship program and that 3
is under the jurisdiction of the department and used for one of the purposes specified 4
in s. 23.09 (2) (d).
(b) “Mitigation program” means the wetland mitigation grant program 6
established under sub. (2).
(c) “Nonprofit organization" means an organization that is described in section 8501
(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code and that is exempt from federal income tax 9
under section 501
(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.
(d) “Stewardship program" means the stewardship program under s. 23.0915 11
The department shall establish a wetland mitigation grant program under 13
which it awards grants to nonprofit organizations to conduct projects to create, 14
restore, or enhance wetlands under the in lieu fee subprogram in s. 281.36 (3r) (e) 15
on department stewardship land as provided in this subsection.
No later than 6 months after the effective date of this subsection .... [LRB 17
inserts date], the department shall identify department stewardship land that is 18
appropriate to include in the mitigation program. The department shall identify no 19
less than 25 percent of department stewardship land for this purpose. The land 20
identified shall include land in every watershed located on department stewardship 21
land, except that if land in one watershed is not appropriate to include in the 22
program, it is sufficient to include land in an adjacent watershed.
(a) No later than 3 months after completion of the land identification stage 24
under sub. (3) or at the beginning of the following fiscal year, whichever is earlier, 25
and no later than July 1 of each subsequent year, the department shall issue a
request for proposals from nonprofit organizations for grants to conduct wetland 2
mitigation projects on department stewardship land identified under sub. (3). The 3
issuance of each new request for proposal begins a new grant cycle.
(b) The department shall require applications for grants under this section to 5
include all of the following:
1. The scope of the proposed project.